Many people wonder if they can do laundry in a camper. Can they have a washer and dryer in a travel trailer or camper?
Typically, you can do laundry in a camper. There are a variety of portable camper-sized washers and dryers to do laundry despite space limitations or the lack of washer and dryer hookups.
By selecting a washing machine and dryer based on your camper’s space and design, you can easily wash and dry your clothes in the comfort and convenience of your camper or travel trailer.
As a general rule, campers and travel trailers do not have washer and dryer hookups or even washing machines or dryers. Some RVs and motorhomes have them, but most do not. You will still produce dirty clothes, towels, and bedding, which need to be cleaned. There are a few ways to address this laundering necessity.
Six Ways to do Laundry While Living in a Camper:
- Use campground laundromat for washing and drying
- Buy a camper washer and use laundromat for drying
- Buy camper washer and use clothesline for drying
- Buy camper washer and camper dryer
- Buy camper dryer and use laundromat for washing
- Use an off-site laundry service
As empty nesters contemplating a full-time camper lifestyle, a top priority for us was space. Moving from a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home to a camper meant giving up a lot. Luckily, we found a two-bedroom camper that allowed us to convert one bedroom into an office. I thought we were set, but I soon discovered laundry was a huge issue! I wished we had included the ability to do laundry inside the camper as a top consideration during our purchasing decision.
Doing laundry was one of the more difficult adjustments to camper living for me. In our home, I was accustomed to taking dirty linen, clothes, and towels downstairs to the laundry room and placing them into our full-sized washer. After about 45 minutes (or 3-4 hours if I forgot), I’d mosey back to the laundry room, remove the clothes from the washer and place them in the dryer. I really didn’t give the process much thought… I should have.
When we visited different campgrounds, we toured the common areas and facilities. The RV resort we ultimately choose had a very nice laundromat. It was large, clean, well maintained, and had many washers and dryers. It also had cable tv, a large folding table, and a restroom. I had not used a laundromat in decades, but when I saw it, I could envision myself sitting there reading or watching tv as I did the laundry. I now know I minimized the difference.
1. Use Campground Laundromat for Washing and Drying
The first week I did laundry, I met a nice Canadian lady who spent winters at the campground. She was pleasant enough, warned me to avoid a couple of mildew-smelling washers (eww), and pointed out the best and fastest dryers to use. There were two washer sizes available, medium and large; there were also two dryer sizes. The price to wash and dry a full load of clothes was about $10 in quarters. After she left, I sat there surfing and occasionally looking up at the tv while waiting for my laundry.
The next week I decided not to stay for the clothes. I went back to the camper and tried to time it to come back a couple of minutes before the dryer or washer stopped. Sometimes it worked; other times it did not – causing me to wait for my clothes or find them already stopped. It was inconvenient.
I’d also seen what could happen when you did not promptly return for your clothes. A camper’s laundry was sometimes unceremoniously removed by others waiting to do their laundry when the washer or dryer stopped. I never did that, and the thought of that happening to me was extremely unpleasant. I didn’t want anyone other than me (or my husband on the rare chance that he’d actually do laundry – lol) touching my towels, undergarments, facecloths or anything. I’m pretty particular about things like that.
For the first 2-3 weeks of full time camper life, I was a trooper and dutifully drug myself back and forth to the laundry building. I missed the convenience of an in home washer and dryer, and I hated maintaining and carrying a small pouch of quarters. I resented having to make small talk when I didn’t feel well. I disliked having to juggle my detergent and softener containers in addition to a clothes basket and quarters bag. I detested the communal nature of laundry, and there was always a mosquito or two in that dang room just waiting for me. I began to despise washing clothes.
Through it all, I had kept a stiff upper lip until I saw it… the last straw! A guy came into the laundry building while I was washing two loads, clothes and towels. This fellow camper walked right by me, stopped, said hi, and opened the washer from which I had just removed my towels. He unfurled a large, rectangular, red and tan plaid dog bed with large dark brown mud crusted paw prints on top of a white layer of dog fur. As the airborne fog of fur began to tumble towards the tiled floor, the doggie daddy proceeded to jam Max’s mattress into the washer and then plopped his quarters in the machine.
At that moment, I shuddered to think what was in the washing machine before I washed my towels. I was so disgusted that I immediately texted my husband and asked him to research camper washers. I never washed clothes in that laundry room again.
If you are accustomed to having your own washer and dryer, laundry should be a consideration for you when considering full time living in a camper. Are you comfortable with a communal washer and dryer? Would it bother you to see something filthy without a hint of prewash placed in a washer that you use?
People are different and have different thresholds. If this doesn’t bother you, you’ll be fine living full time in a camper using campsite laundromats.
2. Buy a Camper Washer and Use Laundromat for Drying
I needed a private in-camper washer because I wanted my own private washing machine. I became selfish and no longer wished to share washers after seeing Fido’s filthy futon placed in the same washing machine that my towels had been.
By the time I returned to the camper with the laundry, John had a few choices for me to view and consider. Since we did not have a washer hookup, we were limited by shower space and storage space.
We had to properly measure the opening between the shower doors and usable space inside the shower to ensure the washer would fit. We used slightly smaller dimensions than the actual ones to make sure we had a buffer if the reported washer dimensions were slightly off. We knew we wanted to place the full washer inside the shower in order to have adequate drainage and to avoid any spills during the wash and rinse cycles, so it had to fit through the shower doors.
We also needed a place to store the washer when it was not in use. We did not want to store it in the shower and have to remove it each time we took a shower. That was too much of a hassle. The only question was where to place it for storage.
Our travel trailer had 2 doors, which I originally hated because of the possibility of being in the shower or taking a potty break when my spouse enters the camper through that bathroom door. No way! I thought it was a waste of a door and made the dedicated space unusable. I soon discovered having that 2nd door in the bathroom actually provided a great place to store the washer. We just needed to measure the available washing machine space in front of that door in such a way that it would not block the adjacent bedroom door from opening.
We found a good camper washing machine to fit the design of our camper. It was around $100 and arrived a couple of days later. It fit perfectly in the shower and in front of the door; I was so excited to have my own washer.
We found a wire stand that worked well as storage below and above it for towels. The stand was adjustable and could be configured to have 2 shelves above the washer. One shelf was for clothes basket storage while the other was for clean towels, washcloths, and hand towels.
While the camper washing machine solution was not like the one in my house, our little washer was a great compromise considering the limited space. It cleaned well, and the spinner wrung the excess water out. I was pleased with the purchase. It was much smaller than regular washers, so I’d wash a few loads before taking clothes to the campground dryers. It was a bit inconvenient (less than when I was washing and drying laundry), but it worked well… until it didn’t.
For the next week or so, I washed a few loads of clothes in the camper and dried them in the campsite laundry room without a major issue. I rationalized the extremely high dryer temperatures would destroy any lingering washer germs, whether dog or human. Upon returning to the camper one day after drying a load, I made a discovery. While folding our laundry, I found blonde hairs on a towel and dishcloth; my husband and I are brunettes. Back to Amazon!
3. Buy Camper Washer and Use Clothesline for Drying
We searched for camper-sized dryers, but we did not have much space. The camper dryer we felt would work was taller, wider, and deeper than our camper washing machine. Where would we place the dryer? We were unsure, but we knew we would figure something out. We ordered it (camper dryer like this).
Since there was about a week and a half wait for delivery of the camper dryer we ordered, we figured we would consider air drying the laundry. Though it was a no-no in our RV campground, we saw a few vacationing campers placing their laundry outside to dry on makeshift clotheslines before management told them to remove it.
Being the particular woman that I am, I was against hanging clothes outside where grill smoke, pollen, bugs, cigar smoke, and other odors may land. We compromised in the interim and bought camper drying hanger clips (like this).
I hung our drying hanger contraption above the shower by hanging it on a long broom-like handle that straddled both sides of the shower. To decrease the drying time, I turned on the bathroom venting fan. I hung up washed clothes, shirts, and undergarments. After an hour, there was no noticeable difference in dryness. I aimed a fan at the hanging clothes. It took forever, and the hanger actually broke under the weight of hand towels, washcloths and other clothes – sending them to the wet shower floor. UGH! I couldn’t wait for my dryer to arrive.
I found having the washer and using manual clothes drying techniques like a clothesline or hangers ineffective and inconvenient.
4. Buy Camper Washer and Dryer
Before our camper dryer would arrive, we had to find room for it. With the outside door in the bathroom, it provided a space for the washer. We measured the same space to see if the dimensions of the dryer would fit in the door area like the washer did. It was bigger, but fit perfectly. There wasn’t enough room for both the washer and dryer if they sat next to each other because they would block the bedroom door.
We had to think outside the box in order to find a placement solution. We considered putting the dryer on the floor and placing the washer directly on top of the dryer, but we worried about water leakage that may damage the dryer.
We knew we were already using a sturdy wire stand for storage in the bathroom in conjunction with the camper washer. We wondered if we could stack the washer and dryer vertically. We felt we could place the heavier dryer under the wire stand and place the washer on a waterproof mat for protection on a shelf above the dryer. We tried, but the dryer was a little too big to fit under the stand where we stored the washer. We kept trying.
We finally figured it out. The dryer fit on top of the wire stand. Initially, we felt uncomfortable due to its heavy weight, but we checked the wire stand’s weight capacity and found it could more than accommodate our dryer and the weight of wet clothes. We had our dryer storage solution!
To be safe, we placed a couple of dry towels inside the dryer and turned it on to see how the dryer would perform. There was a slight movement, which was a concern since the stand was top heavy. We felt the odds of the dryer tumbling off while in use were small, but John used multiple zip ties on the dryer to secure it to the stand. It worked because it never fell off.
The dryer was situated perfectly. It was stationary above the washer, which was easily moved in and out of the shower. It stood in front of a screened door with a door slide, where we opened the door for venting. The dryer was also located beneath the camper’s 3-speed venting fan, which helped to pull moist heat out of the camper. We did not plan it, but it was the best placement for both the washer and dryer. Thank goodness for 2nd doors in camper bathrooms!
We were fortunate enough to find a good camper washer and dryer to fit the design of our camper. Since the extra door provided a space to enter and exit without blockage, it was a perfect dedicated space for the dryer and washer since we never used that door.
The dryer was around $300 and arrived about 9 days after we ordered it. It had two lint filters and dried the clothes well. In the summer, we dried clothes very early in the day to avoid a sweltering camper. The venting fan and screened door really helped to remove the dryer generated heat, but it could get hot!
It was a wonderful feeling to have a washer and dryer in my home again. It was convenient and private. I was excited to have my laundry facilities totally self-contained. It was the best of both worlds, as I did not have to get dressed to lug laundry, detergent, fabric softener, and quarters out of the camper. If you value the same things, consider laundry options before you purchase a camper. We happened to luck into a workable washer dryer solution. Though we hope you do as well, you may not be as fortunate.
5. Buy Camper Dryer and Use Laundromat for Washing
Though camper washers are affordable and may pay for themselves in a couple of months, if your laundry exceeds a camper-sized washer’s capacity or you don’t have the money or space, it only makes sense to use the camper laundry room to wash your laundry. Using the camper’s laundromat for washing, then using your own dryer is definitely manageable.
The problem with a laundromat washer and camper dryer is that of proportion. A traditional laundromat washer has a far greater capacity than that of a camper washer. You may bring back one clean wet laundry load to the camper, but you may find yourself drying that load all day because of the larger capacity of laundromat washers compared to the capacity of camper dryers. This should be considered, as the amount of time required to dry your load can be quite inconvenient. Smaller wash-as-you-go loads may prove more beneficial, less time consuming, and less of a sauna-type environment in your camper…BUT the price for a load is the same at the laundromat regardless of how many clothes you place inside the washer.
This difference in washer versus dryer and the additional drying time in a small confined space should definitely be a consideration before buying a dryer. If you have already purchased your dryer, consider a camper sized washer if you have the space or can figure out a safe compromise as we did. This will allow you to wash as you go with smaller loads. If there is absolutely no space for a washer, consider placing some items on hangers while others are in the dryer to speed up drying time.
6. Use an Offsite Laundry Service
Dropping your clothes off with a service and picking them up later is an excellent, but more expensive, option to have your laundry done. It is convenient, in the sense that you are not doing the work in the camper laundromat or in your camper.
You will have to leave the campsite to drop off your dirty laundry and pick it up when it’s clean, but it is more than likely near a store, gas station, or restaurant you frequent. Also, some laundry services offer door-to-door service for an additional fee. The increased cost is a tradeoff many campers would make to avoid a steamy camper, the campground laundry building, or the physical labor involved in washing and folding your own laundry.
For picky campers who dislike communal laundry facilities, this is not a good option because you are paying more to have a stranger handle your laundry and share washers and dryers with the general public – and possibly pets.
For full-time campers with financial goals to save money or quickly pay off debt, this can be counterproductive. A laundry service is often the most expensive way to have your laundry cleaned.
An offsite laundry service alleviates trips to check on your clothes at the campground and the need to hoard quarters. It also does not convert your camper into a sauna or require a dedicated space to store a washer or dryer. Most campers are looking for ways to live affordably and maintain a sense of normalcy from their prior houses and apartments. If you used a laundry service before, this remains a comfortable option.
Many people wonder if they can do laundry in a camper. Laundry can definitely be done in a camper if the washer and dryer are matched to the camper’s design and space. With a little creativity, measurements, and safety, possible solutions can be considered and evaluated prior to making a purchase. In many cases, you can do your laundry in your camper.